Laura Shin

It was a magical moment last year at the downtown performance event, Deep Dish Cabaret, when ZeroBoy took the stage. Dressed in silver lame windbreaker that matched his white hair, the tall snarling-lipped actor wowed the crowd with a story of sound effects.

An expert re-creator of everyday noises, ZeroBoy conveyed a tale of a guy driving down a highway, racing a motorcyclist (whom he flips off when he pulls away), surfing through radio stations and removing something splattered against the windshield.

He used a few choice words and included some simnple gestures, yet the entertainment was all about his talent with his mouth.

"My sounds aren't perfect," said Zero Boy, 38, a rising performance-artist sensation, born Joel Blumsack in the Boston suburb of Brookline.

"But because I'm like a comic book— I use hand gestures, like driving a steering wheel— your imagination has to work. I don't provide the actual props, so people have to see in their minds what they're creating."

Zero Boy's act may sound silly, but he's loved at Deep Dish, a I traveling act called "the hippest thing in Manhattan" by Talk magazine, and has been booked there more than any other performer. The Whitney Museum also invited him to join its popular spring performance series "By Any Means Necessary."

"l've seen hundreds of performers, and Zero Boy's material is uniquely brilliant in its conception and execution," said Stephen Kosloff, who runs Deep Dish, which again features Zero Boy this Saturday at 10:30 p.m. (It's at 675 Hudson St., 3N; for his other peformances, check or call [212] 254-1954.)

"I'm sure someone will discover him, and I think he's destined to do big things."

Zero Boy grew up playing alone — despite having two brothers — and trying to imitate the sounds and characters of favorite TV shows like "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."

"We used to play fighting games like cops and robbers, but whenever you play a kid, they always win," he said. "So it was just easier to play by myself."

"That's why they call me Zero Boy—I had zero friends," he joked.

Actually, the stage name was his own creation, a moniker that came to him "like a flash one night."

Now, of course, he can't shake it.

"More people know me by Zero Boy than by my real name," he said. "Sometimes some friends will go, 'Hey Joel,' and I've never heard them say my real name. My girlfriend says she didn't know my real name for two weeks.

His love of performing was encouraged when, as a kid he attended the Elmo Lewis School of Fine Arts in Boston, a black cultural. institution where his dad worked as a theater teacher. He and his brothers were the only students who weren't black. He learned ballet, violin and conga drums.

Zero Boy also attended Boston University's theater school for years, then moved to the East Village and developed his self-. escribed "vocal acrobat" routine.

He tried it out while living all s over Europe, in Holland, Germany and Russia. The advantage of doing sound effects was that he didn't need to speak the language.

One of the stranger venues was at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. (Afterward, he served as the magazine's foreign correspondent and moved into a swank loft above the Hash Museum.)

Zero Boy, whose other performing names are Johnny Zero and Joel Farrell, doesn't agree with people who think his name is self-deprecating.

"In Europe, people would ask me, 'Don't you think you're putting yourself down?' but in New York, people just say I'm weird."

It means a lot when even New Yorker's think someone's weird!